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Talking Arable with Iain Green: Difficult growing season

AgronomyHarvest

We started harvest on July 28. Our winter barley on the lighter land was first to be cut. This year it was all six-row, with most being hybrids. We had several plots of just under one-hectare blocks to compare hybrid varieties. The plots in the centre of one of the fields yielded very well despite the difficult growing season, with Belfry just coming out top at 9.83 tonnes/hectare closely followed by Fletcher at 9.77t/ha.

 

All the bushel weights were low ranging from 57.9-60.8. The final dried yield for all our winter barley averaged 8.42t/ha, back more than a tonne to the hectare on last year.

 

Our show season has come to an end once again; we attended eight of our local shows throughout July and August, with both our pedigree Simmentals and my middle daughter Jemma’s pedigree Texels. Despite these shows being a lot of hard work they are a great shop window for promoting our own stock, as well as Scottish agriculture and we have had good fun meeting existing and new customers during the show season.

 

We were lucky enough to obtain several championships, both in the cattle and sheep sections, including the champion of champions award at one of the shows with a young home-bred bull which is going to be sold in October at the Stirling Bull sales. Jemma received five first prize tickets and champion Texel for a home-bred shearing tup to be sold this autumn.

 

We started combining spring barley on August 17, which was three days earlier than last year. We were lucky to have three or four very hot sunny days along with a good breeze, which allowed us to harvest the flat fields of barley first. Although the barley was ripe the straw has not been and we have had to leave it lying to die off before baling.

 

It is frustrating not being able to get it baled because we have been getting small showers of rain overnight and with little wind it has not dried enough to bale but the barley has been dry enough to cut, resulting in us having a lot of straw lying in the bout. Hopefully we will get a good, dry, breezy spell of weather to get the straw all baled up as this is such an important commodity for our livestock enterprises.

 

As I write this we have only cut the high nitrogen Fairing barley on the lighter ground as nothing else has been ready. Yields have been good so far, averaging around 7.3t/ha but the summer has suited the lighter land. Winter wheat is ripening fast and I fear all the spring barley and all the wheat will be ready to harvest together.

 

We have had tremendous growth in the last few weeks. Fields of wholecrop silage undersown with grass have grown well and the young grass has never stopped growing since we harvested the wholecrop, this will give us some good, clean grass for finishing some of the lambs this autumn.

 

Stubble turnips were once again sown into ploughed areas after the winter barley was harvested. The weather has suited these and they have germinated well. We have tried min-tilling these in but never had great success and have decided to stick with ploughing, levelling and drilling with the grass-seed harrow. The stubble turnips will be used to feed our wintered spring-calving suckler cows.

 

We cut the first field of hay in the second week of July, but because the weather never improved we decided to wrap it for haylage. Thankfully we have been lucky and managed to make the remaining 37ha into good quality hay.

Arable Farming
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